On Sunday, pastor Rick Warren tweeted this (Yesterday, he deleted it… thanks, screenshots!):
Before we get into how bad of an idea tweeting this joke is, let’s be clear here. Rick Warren isn’t some nobody. This man is a pastor of Saddleback Church, a mega-church with ten locations and weekly attendance around 20,000 parishioners. He delivered the inaguration prayer for President Obama. As of this tweet, he had 623,000 followers on Twitter, where his bio says that he mentors young leaders.
In light of all that, let me present what I think isn’t a particularly radical idea: sexual harassment is wrong, full stop. It’s not that sexual harassment is wrong in some circumstances, or only when done by certain people. It’s always unacceptable. This “joke” plays off the old idea that if the perpetrator is attractive, the victim should want their attention. If the harasser is considered ugly? Then they should know their attentions are unwanted and it’s harassment.
That’s not how it works. Sexual harassment is sexual harassment, be it done by men or women, “cute” or “ugly.”
Rick Warren missed a prime opportunity to talk about the very real problems of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Instead, he told his more-than-half-a-million followers that he found this “joke” funny. As a pastor, he professes to lead and mentor a flock of tens of thousands, to be an authority on respect and honor and morality. Then he says things like this, and his followers retweet him and agree with him, and bad ideas get perpetuated.
***Update***: The same message was posted on Rick Warren’s Facebook page around the exact same time as his Tweet. Late last night, Warren claimed that his Facebook account (and, presumably, his Twitter account) was hacked and that he’d never post something like this.
You have to be skeptical, though. If someone went through all the trouble of hacking into Warren’s Facebook/Twitter accounts, is this really the sort of thing one would post? Why not write, say, “I support gay marriage”? That would cause much more chaos for Warren.